How should we describe our role? In essence we are the bridge between the Pastoral Visitors and the Minister. The Methodist Church website has this to say about pastoral care within the Church “A Healthy Church Community is one where people know they are loved, visitors are welcome, young and old alike are valued and feel safe. The care that we offer, both at times of crisis and in everyday life is an active proclamation of God’s love in Christ and for all the world.”
Our Church owes a great debt of gratitude to Hazel Rodenhurst for her years of service as Pastoral Co-ordinator, so when asked to take on this responsibility we needed to give it some thought. Hazel was always going to be a hard act to follow and we have valued greatly the help and support she has given us as we have settled into the job over this past year.
Our church is blessed in having about 25 pastoral visitors who, through regular contact and developing relationships, become aware of the challenges people are facing, like illness or bereavement, but are also privileged to share in their joys and celebrations. Rev Sue will also follow up as appropriate.
We are given some information in confidence and we ensure that this is maintained whilst making the wider church family aware of situations through ‘Family News’ in the Notice Sheet and our prayer chain, which Sheila LaRiviere is responsible for. This is a much valued aspect of our church’s caring.
We organise access to recordings of our Sunday morning services as requested, especially to our housebound friends, enabling them to continue to feel part of our church family. We have a welcoming brief for newcomers and visitors and organise distribution of membership tickets. Of course, there are also the more mundane tasks and record keeping to complete.
Each year our Pastoral Visitors share in an act of dedication, usually during a morning service. This year’s service will be on 18 March. With Rev Sue they meet together for mutual support and encouragement. In all these various ways we seek to offer God’s love to those who belong to our church in whatever capacity and to encourage them to feel part of a concerned and caring community where they might flourish and develop their faith.
As co-ordinators we do not try to do everything ourselves but attempt to keep the lines of communication open between members, pastoral visitors and our clergy. As has been said on many occasions before, we do not know of pastoral concerns unless someone tells us. We would rather hear of a situation several times than learn sometime later that a need was not met because we did not know about it.
We consider it a real privilege to be able to serve Broadstone Methodist Church in this way.
As the hymn-writer Rev Fred Pratt Green wrote in one of his hymns:
"We have no mission but to serve In full obedience to our Lord;
To care for all, without reserve,and spread his liberating Word."